Sustainably Improving Neurosurgical Patient Outcomes in Uganda (2020-2021)


Global surgery was catapulted into the global health spotlight with the publication of the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery Report. The report discusses the importance of projects that focus not only on the provision of surgical procedures but also on the need for holistic health systems strengthening.

Since 2007, Duke’s Division of Global Neurosurgery and Neurology (DGNN) has been utilizing this concept to improve neurosurgical care for patients throughout Uganda. DGNN’s approach consists of the provision of neurosurgical services, training (neurosurgery residents, nurses, biomedical engineers), research, partnership and advocacy. The long-term vision includes reaching a threshold of 50 Uganda-trained neurosurgeons who are equitably spread across the country, increasing the number of facilities capable of providing neurosurgical operations, improving the infrastructure for neurosurgical care delivery and developing a Uganda Neuroscience Institute to serve as a center of neurosurgical and neurological excellence within East Africa.

Project Description

Previous teams have identified and quantified issues impacting neurosurgical outcomes, developed and implemented interventions to address these issues, then evaluated and refined the interventions. Building on this work, the 2020-2021 team will determine ways to sustain improvements in outcomes of neurosurgery patients.

In order to develop a sustainable model for improving neurosurgery patient outcomes, the team will focus on three strategic areas.

  • Infection control: How do you develop a lasting culture of hand hygiene and sanitization that helps curb overall infection rates?
  • Medication management: How do you develop a system that ensures that all patients get the right medication at the right time and for the right reason?
  • Patient caretaker education: How do you ensure that patient caretakers are provided with sufficient information to care for their patients to prevent poor outcomes?

Team members will create a sustainability plan for each strategic area and develop an in-country quality improvement team that will pick up this work in the future, ultimately allowing medical facilities in Uganda to maintain the safety standards developed by the team.

In additional, the team will generate data to be used to develop more ways to improve interventions, an abstract for conferences and a manuscript for global health journals.

Anticipated Outputs

Sustainability plan for interventions; plan for Uganda-based quality improvement team; data for developing ways to improve interventions; abstract for submission to conferences; manuscript for submission to journals


Summer 2020 – Spring 2021

  • Summer 2020 (optional): Development of key ideas for evaluation plans; project development; identification of key improvement areas; travel to Uganda
  • Fall 2020: Project and research implementation and completion
  • Spring 2021: Submission of abstracts, posters and manuscripts; evaluation of project and research data


Maria Pita

This Team in the News

Senior Spotlight: Reflections from the Class of 2021

See earlier related team, Benchmarking Interventions Aimed at Improving Neurosurgical Patient Outcomes in Uganda (2019-2020).


Team Leaders

  • Anthony Fuller, School of Medicine-Neurosurgery
  • Michael Haglund, Duke Global Health Institute|School of Medicine-Neurosurgery

/graduate Team Members

  • Veronica Brtek, Global Health - MSc
  • Bruno Valan, Master of Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine MD Third Year

/undergraduate Team Members

  • Venkat Vege, Chemistry (BS)
  • Stephan Beauge, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Jonah Sinclair, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Jein Seo, Biology (BS)
  • Priyanka Rao, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Maria Pita, Cultural Anthropology (AB)
  • Oluwaseun Oguntunmibi, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Rifah Nanjiba, Neuroscience (AB)
  • Leena Mohamedali, Neuroscience (BS)
  • Amina Mohamed, Public Policy Studies (AB)
  • Taylor Horowitz, Neuroscience (BS)
  • /undergraduate

/yfaculty/staff Team Members

  • Shem Opolot, School of Medicine-Neurosurgery
  • Timothy Dunn, School of Medicine-Neurosurgery

/zcommunity Team Members

  • Christine Muhumuza, Department of Public Health, Makerere University (Uganda)
  • Michael Muhumuza, Department of Neurosurgery, Mulago Hospital (Uganda)
  • Monika Narain, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy-Student
  • Ruth Kange, Mulago Hospital, Neurosurgery Department
  • Stephen Frederico, Johns Hopkins University-Graduate Student